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Full text of "Methods and costs of loading apples in the orchard in the Pacific Northwest"

Historic, archived document 

Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. 



UNITED STATES 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

LIBRARY 




BOOK NUMBER * _ ■ 

889100 «. r 67 

1953-1954 



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f 


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Methods and Costs of 



LOADING APPLES 
IN THE ORCHARD 
IN THE PACIFIC 
NORTHWEST 



MARKETING 
RESEARCH 
REPORT NO. 55 



U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
WASHINGTON, D. C. 



JANUARY 1954 



CONTENTS 

Page 

Introduction 1 

General orchard equipment and practices „ . . 2 

Loading orchard trailers 2 

Common methods of loading (methods A and B) 5 

Improved method of loading (method C) » 5 

Comparison of common (A, B) and improved (C) methods of loading 5 

Common method of loading when using pallets (method D) * 9 

Loading special trailer designed for pallets (method EL 9 

Comparison of loading of the common (D) and special (E) orchard trailer when 

using pallets „ 9 

Loading road trucks at the orchard 12 

Loading directly from trailer with a roller conveyor (method F) 12 

Loading directly from trailer without a roller conveyor (method G) ............ . 12 

Improved method of loading directly from trailer (method H) . 12 

Comparison of common (F, G) and improved (H) methods of loading directly from 

trailers „ 15 

Transferring manually from trailer to ground stack to truck (method I) 15 

Transferring manually from trailer to platform and by hand truck to truck 

(method J) 17 

Transferring by hand truck from trailer to platform and then to truck (method K)„ 17 
Comparison of three common methods (I, J, K) of loading trucks from an assem- 
bly point in orchard » 17 

Loading trucks, using conventional pallet system (methods L, M, and N) ....„„. . 17 
Loading trucks fitted with dunnage strips, using stevedore -type two-wheeled hand 

trucks ...... 19 

Comparison of unloading methods at warehouse from trucks using conventional 

pallet system and trucks using dunnage strips and stevedore -type trucks 24 

Some methods used in other areas 24 

Summary „ 24 



889100 

METHODS AND COSTS OF LOADING APPLES 
IN THE ORCHARD IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST 1 

By EARL W. CARLSEN, director of research , D. LOYD HUNTER and RAOUL S. 

DUERDEN, i ndustrial engineers, Washington State Apple Commission, Yakima ; 
and G. F. SAINSBURY 9 agricultural engineer, Division of Farm Buildings , 
Agricultural Research Service. 



Introduction 

Handling methods from tree to warehouse have an important bearing on how quickly 
apples can be moved into cold storage after picking and how gently the fruit can be 
handled. Both of these factors influence the ultimate storage life of the fruit and its sal- 
ability. 

A research program in Washington State has accumulated considerable information 
on methods and costs of loading and moving apples from between the tree rows in the 
orchard to the storage and packing plants under the conditions found in that area. To 
make the comparisons of methods more exact, the orchard driving time and the prepara- 
tion time at each stop in the orchard have been eliminated, because great variation was 
found in these operations that was not in any way related to the method being studied. 
An overall cost figure for moving apples from-orchard to packing house would include 
the driving and preparatory operations; however, the comparison of two methods for a 
given orchard situation will be represented by the difference between the figures given 
here. The driving and preparatory operations would add the same amount to each 
method for a given instance (assuming the crew size remains the same). Evaluation of 
differences should be made only by comparing actual cost differences and should not be 
converted into percentages, because such a procedure involves the erroneous assump- 
tion that the operations that have not been included are nonexistent. 

In this report several terms are used that have a specific or semitechnical meaning. 
The most important of these terms are defined as follows: 

Standardized time . --Observed man-hours taken to perform various operations 
common to different methods, as found in the Washington State apple industry. 

Preparation or setup time . --Time required previous to doing a given job. For ex- 
ample, walking from tractor to position beside stacks of boxes or taking off the ropes 
and end rack from a road truck before loading. 

Wait time . --Time one member or members of a crew spend in waiting for another 
member or members during the work process. 

Fatigue time . --Time allowance for resting after exertion required in doing a job. 

Labor cost computations were based on the 1952 rate of $1. 15 an hour. 

The boxes used in the study are standard apple boxes used in the Northwest, having 
outside dimensions 19 1/2 inches long by 12 inches wide by 10 3/4 inches deep. When 
used as field lugs they will hold an average of 34 pounds of fruit, although this average 
may be subject to a variation of 3 pounds, depending on size and variety. 

Machine costs that are charged against certain methods cover only the cost of 
special equipment required for that method and are figured on the basis of an annual 

'This report summarizes parts of a study of apple handling costs and methods made by the Washington SLate Apple 
Commission, Research Department, working under contract No. A-ls-33006 for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. It covers a 
study in which certain phases were carried on under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (RMA Title II.) 



1 - 



charge of 1 5 percent of the initial cost to cover depreciation, insurance, taxe-s, and 
maintenance. The machine cost of trucks and trailers normally involved in the various 
methods has not been included in the evaluations, because the saving in machine time 
may or may not enable the grower to operate with less equipment, depending on the cir- 
cumstance of an individual operation. The data presented on elapsed time, or machine 
time, for the various methods will enable a grower to investigate the possibility that an 
improved method may permit him to harvest his crop with less equipment. 

General Orchard Equipment and Practices 

Several methods of loading orchard trailers and road trucks are in current use in 
the industry. Some growers are trying new methods in an effort to find more efficient 
ways to move their fruit. No method is universally suitable, for conditions in some 
orchards will prevent the use of an otherwise desirable or economical method of loading. 

Hauling from the orchard should follow picking as closely as possible, for each day 
the fruit is held at 70 F. is equivalent to losing 10 days of storage life. 2 With the late 
varieties, apples left in the orchard may be subject to freeze damage and to certain 
types of decay in the field and when they reach storage. 3 Serious losses may result if 
the fruit is left in the field during rainy weather. For those reasons it is important to 
have the hauling efficiently organized as well as to keep costs at a minimum. 

The majority of Washington growers haul fruit from the orchard on flat-bed two- 
wheeled or tandem-wheeled trailers (one wheel slightly ahead of the other to ride gently 
over uneven orchard terrain) (fig. 1). Some of the older trailers have large wheel 
housings in the bed, while the newer ones all use smaller wheels and flat beds. The 
trailers are constructed with the beds relatively close to the ground so that the loaded 
trailer can move under the branches of the trees. The trailer is usually built with a bed 
approximately 7 feet wide, which will accommodate the length of four boxes or the width 
of seven boxes. Some growers prefer to load boxes crosswise to the trailer bed (fig. 2), 
because they believe the load rides more stably over orchard ditches and around turns. 
Others load the boxes lengthwise (fig. 3), because this arrangement is easier to load. 

After the trailer has been loaded in the orchard it may be hauled directly to the 
cold storage plant or, more frequently, to the edge of the orchard. Trailers may be 
pulled by either a wheel- or crawler -type tractor or by a jeep. At the edge of the orchard 
the fruit is usually transferred to a platform or to a road truck or sometimes stacked 
on the ground; under most circumstances it is uneconomical to haul to the warehouse 
with tractor -trailer equipment. 

The decision to haul fruit to the warehouse on trailers depends upon the distance, 
the transportation speed of hauling equipment, and the size of the load. A road truck 
generally hauls 288 boxes, whereas an average trailer hauls about half this load. A 
comparison of the time required per 1,000 boxes (including the time to transfer the 
boxes from the orchard trailer to the truck) shows that a highway truck traveling at 
40 miles an hour will deliver more fruit to the warehouse than a trailer traveling 15 
miles per hour when the distance to the warehouse is 4 1/2 miles. From an inspection 
of figure 4 a grower may determine whether it would be less costly to move fruit to the 
plant on trailers or on road trucks. 

Loading Orchard Trailers 

In these studies loading orchard trailers has been divided into three main operations: 
(1) Driving into, through, and out of the orchard; (2) preparing to pick up boxes after 



Fisher, D. F. , and Smith, E. Handling Apples From Tree to Table. U.S. Dept. Agr. Cir. 659, 43 pp., illus. Revised 
1951. 

3 Mostly anthracnose-type decay commonly called ' ' bull ' s eye rot. ' ' 




FIGURE 1. --Empty tandem- 
wheeled trailer. 



FIGURE 2. --Loading boxes from 
tree row to orchard trailer- - 
crosswise load (method A). 





FIGURE 3. --Trailers with 
lengthwise loads. 



- 3 



10 





i 

1 


/ 


/ 
/ 






<§7 






i 


7 / 






y:- 


s 

Road truck hauling 




y 


288 boxes per load 

Orchard trailer hauling 

144 boxes per load 



2 4 6 8 1 

MILES FROM ORCHARD TO PLANT 



FIGURE 4. --Man-hours of work required to haul boxes of apples from an orchard to a storage plant by 
orchard trailer and by road truck when traveling at various speeds over various distances. The man- 
hours of work required when hauling by road truck includes 3. 65 hours necessary to transfer the boxes 
from trailer to road truck. 



stopping at the stacks beside the tree rows and preparing to move to the next stack of 
boxes in the tree rows; and (3) loading the boxes onto the trailer. 

It is not possible to arrive at a uniform time spent in driving, because circum- 
stances differ in each orchard and with each load. The distance to the unloading platform; 
changes in terrain, such as the presence of irrigation ditches and rills; and the distance 
between boxes in the tree rows affect the amount of time spent in driving. Similarly, a 
uniform time does not occur for preparing to pick up boxes. This time is affected by the 
number of stops required to fill the trailer, the yield of fruit, the instructions given to 
pickers on placing their boxes, as well as features of the terrain. 

The variability of the foregoing factors is demonstrated by the data in table 1, which 
shows that the driving time to pick up loads in orchards ranged from 6. 71 to 28.48 
minutes per trailer load. The highest driving time was seven times the lowest, while 
the highest preparatory time was more than three times the lowest. 

Since the great variability in time of driving and preparing to pick up boxes eliminates 
these from detailed study, the operation of actually loading the boxes is the main opera- 
tion for analysis. A number of methods of loading boxes onto trailers has been compared. 

- 4 - 



TABLE 1. — Range in average time taken to drive through an orchard and in preparatory work for 
loading orchard trailers from tree-row stacks in 8 Washington State apple orchards 1 



Type of observation 



Number of 
observations 



Minutes per trailer load 



Lowest Highest Average 



Total driving time per trailer load: 

Driving time with trailer unloaded and going 
into the orchard and with trailer loaded and 

coming out of orchard 

Driving time through orchard with orchard trailer 

partly loaded 

Preparatory time during the loading operation 



10 



6.71 



5.67 



1.0-4 
.77 



28.48 



22. i 



5.60 
2.70 



14.02 



11.50 



2.52 
1.55 



1 Average trailer load 150 boxes. 

Common Methods of Loading 
(Methods A and B) 

The most common method of loading trailers in this area (method A, figs. 2 and 5) 
uses one worker on the ground to lift boxes from the tree -row stacks onto the edge of the 
trailer bed. This workman frequently carries the boxes several steps in this operation. 
Another worker standing on the trailer bed picks up the box from the edge and places it 
into hauling position. The amount of time required to do this is 3. 04 man-hours per 
1, 000 boxes (table 2). 

A variation of this common method is for the man on the trailer bed to stack the 
center rows on the trailer and then move to the ground, where he assists the ground work- 
er in placing the remaining boxes along the edges of the trailer (fig. 6). This method (B) 
saved more than one -sixth of the v/ork requirements per 1,000 boxes and reduced the 
time to load the trailer by approximately one -fourth of an hour per 1, 000 boxes (table 2). 

Improved Method of Loading 
(Method C) 

In one orchard an improved trailer-loading method (C) eliminated the man standing 
on the trailer bed. This improvement was accomplished by placing skids across the 
trailer bed, enabling the worker to push the stack of boxes toward the center of the 
trailer after building a stack of the desired height on the edge of the trailer. Stacks can 
be pushed across the whole width of the trailer or to the middle of the trailer, permitting 
it to be loaded from either or both sides (figs. 7, 8, 9, and 10). 

Improved method C saved 39 percent of the loading labor required by the common 
method A and reduced the elapsed time to load a trailer by nearly 40 percent. 

Comparison of Common (A, B) and Improved (C) Methods of Loading 

Method C effected a sizable savings in costs as a result of man-hours saved (table 2). 
Even more important, it may allow the use of a smaller crew; particularly, in smaller 
orchards where one man can do all of the loading and hauling of fruit to the warehouse. 
In a larger orchard the savings in total time may reduce the amount of hauling equipment 
needed. The difference in the capital cost of equipment for the two systems was negligible. 
The nominal cost of the hardwood strips may be offset by less wear on the trailer bed. 



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FIGURE 5. --Common method of 
loading orchard trailer: one man 
on the ground and one man on the 
nailer bed ( method A) . 





FIGURE 6. --Method B: One worker 
lifts boxes to trailer bed and 
another stacks boxes in middle 
rows; both stack boxes in out- 
side rows. 



FIGURE 7. --Method C: Hardwood 
strips permit workers to slide 
stacks of boxes from edge of 
trailer to center. 



t=*jM 






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- 7 - 



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FIGURE 8. --Closeup of hardwood 
strips on trailer bed ( method C) . 




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■ :: " : ' , ..i"' ' , ■ >: ' -. ?X 




FIGURE 9. --Worker sliding tier of 
boxes across strips ( method C) . 



FIGURE 10. --Worker completing 

one tier of the load (method C). 4 ] 




- 8 



A disadvantage of method C is that it will not permit hand-clamp trucks to move over 
the trailer bed lengthwise for unloading the trailer. However, trailers usually are un- 
loaded from the side. 

Common Method of Loading When Using Pallets (Method D) 

At industrial fork-lift truck plants in Washington, where fruit is hauled to the plant 
on trailers, a part of the trailer load may be hauled on pallets. Such a load is termed "a 
partially palletized" load and is illustrated in figure 11. The pallets are not stacked to a 
full unit load of 6-high, because a trailer load 2 or 3 boxes high is the maximum that can 
be maneuvered through the orchard beneath low-hanging limbs and over rather uneven 
terrain. After the trailer arrives at the warehouse the unit load must be built to full 
height by taking some of the boxes on the trailer that are not on pallets and stacking them 
on the partially loaded pallets. 

Empty pallets are placed on the orchard trailer by the tractor driver and helper at 
the edge of the orchard (fig. 12) or at the warehouse where the trailer is unloaded. After 
the pallets are loaded the trailer is hauled to the orchard where the boxes are placed on 
the trailer in a manner essentially the same as previously described for the common 
trailer loading method (method A) (fig. 13). 

The partially palletized load (method D) required 3-1/4 man-hours per 1, 000 boxes 
of apples, 0.2 man-hour more than when pallets were not used, which was the time needed 
to handle the empty pallets. At the warehouse the partially palletized trailer method of 
hauling saved 0. 78 man-hour per 1, 000 field boxes.* 

Loading Special Trailer Designed for Pallets (Method E) 

One grower completely palletized his load to 5-high in the orchard by using a special 
trailer having minimum ground clearance, width to accommodate one pallet, and length 
to handle four pallets (figs. 14 and 15). The trailer was constructed so that the pallets 
were tied in place while in transit. The trailer was loaded by workmen standing on the 
ground and moving the boxes from the tree -row stacks to the pallet (fig. 16, method E). 

With this specially built trailer 1, 000 boxes were loaded with 2. 82 man-hours of 
labor in an elapsed time of 1.41 hours. The decrease in stacking time (0. 74 man-hour 
per 1, 000 boxes) as compared to the common method was attributable to the fact that all 
boxes are stacked in hauling position with one handling. This improved method saves 
considerable time in stacking boxes on the trailer, but 43 percent of the savings is lost 
because the trailer load must be tied (fig. 17). 

Comparison of Loading of the Common (D) and Special (E) Orchard Trailer When 
Using Pallets 

Analysis of the data shows that method D of partially palletizing the load in the 
orchard is not so efficient as using the specially built trailer. The special trailer can 
be loaded in 13 minutes less time per 1,000 boxes than the partially palletized load (table 
2). Labor is reduced by 1 3 percent. 

There are obvious advantages of using the improved method, but it does have some 
shortcomings. Many orchards in this area are not planned or arranged to permit a 5-high 
load to be hauled from the orchard, although on this trailer a 5-high load is equal to only 
4-high on a conventional trailer. Storage capacities in most pallet plants would be reduced 
if the pallet loads go into storage five boxes high instead of six, and the investment in 
pallets would be increased approximately one-sixth. 



4 Carlsen, E. W., Hunter, D. L. , Duerden, R. S. , and Herrick, J. F. Apple Handlin K Methods and Equipment in Pacific 
Northwest Packing and Storage Houses. U. S. Dept. Agr. Market. Res. Rpt. 49, 302 pp. , illus. 1953. 

- 9 - 




FIGURE 11. --Method D: Orchard 
trailer with partially palletized 
load. 



FIGURE 12. --Pallets placed on 
bed of trailer in preparation 
of partially palletized load 
( method D) . 





FIGURE 13. —Loading partially 
palletized trailer ( method 
D). 



10 - 



H-W I 







FIGURE 14. —Method E: Special pal- 
letized orchard trailer. 



^3 



FIGURE 15. --Special palletized orchard 
trailer loaded (method E). 




FIGURE 16. --Stacking boxes on special trailer (method E). 

- 11 - 



FIGURE 17. --Securing the pallet load to the 
special trailer (method E). 



Loading Road Trucks at the Orchard 

Fruit is sometimes hauled directly to the packing plant on trailers, but mOre often 
the apples are transferred from the trailer, either directly to the road truck at the edge 
of the orchard or to an assembly point at the edge of the orchard. When the fruit is 
accumulated, usually on a wooden platform, the boxes will be stacked 6-high on the 
trailer and hand-trucked onto the platform over a bridge plate. In other cases the boxes 
are moved from the trailer by hand and stacked onto the platform and occasionally onto 
the ground. Later the apples are hand-trucked from the platform to the road truck. 

In loading road trucks it is necessary to arrange tie ropes to tie the boxes into place 
when the load is completed. The amount of time required to do this is referred to as set- 
up and cleanup time. Similar operations are involved in preparing to unload the trailer or 
to return to the orchard. The amount of time needed to do this is approximately 0. 28 man- 
hour per 1, 000 boxes. The setup time is not appreciably affected by the method of loading 
a road truck and for that reason is used as a standard allowance in the discussions that 
follow (table 3). 

Loading Directly From a Trailer With a Roller Conveyor (Method F) 

Roller conveyors are frequently used to load fruit directly to the road truck. By this 
method (F) the trailer is usually pulled in behind the road truck or the road truck is 
backed up to the trailer. An extension roller conveyor is placed on the bed of the truck, 
extending no more than a foot or two beyond the end of the truck bed. A worker standing 
on the edge of the trailer bed lifts the boxes and places them on the roller conveyor with 
a slight push so that the boxes roll to the end of the extension conveyor (fig. 18). A 
second worker on the truck bed picks up the boxes from the conveyor and places them in 
6-high stacks. The roller conveyor is withdrawn as the truck is filled. The last few 
rows of boxes are stacked into place directly from the trailer. 

Using the roller conveyor, two men can load a road truck in 4 man-hours per 1,000 
boxes in an elapsed time of 2 hours, A truckload of 288 boxes will require 35 minutes to 
load. Sixteen percent of the man-hours for this operation was an allowance for fatigue. 

Loading Directly From Trailer Without a Roller Conveyor (Method G) 

A typical method (G) is to transfer apples from a trailer to a road truck without the 
use of a roller conveyor (figs. 19 and 20). After the truck and trailer are suitably 
positioned, one worker, standing on the trailer bed, lifts the boxes up, usually above 
shoulder height, and holds the box until it is grasped by another worker standing on the 
truck bed, who then stacks it. 

Because this method of loading requires considerable effort, the man-hours allowed 
for fatigue amounted to 1 8 percent of the total work. Two workers can load a road truck 
by this method at the rate of 3. 65 man-hours per 1 , 000 boxes in an elapsed time of 1. 82 
hours. Thus, it would require 31 minutes to load a 288-box truck. 

While the time taken by method G is slightly less than that when a roller conveyor is 
used, it does require more strenuous effort on the part of the worker. 

Improved Method of Loading Directly From Trailer (Method H) 

An improved method of loading a road truck directly from an orchard trailer was 
found in use in one large orchard where fruit was hauled to a warehouse owned by the 
grower. Road trucks were equipped with wide bridge plates hinged similar to that for a 
tailgate. The truck, with bridge plate lowered onto the trailer bed, backs into an area 



- 12 - 



Labor and machine 

costs required to 

transfer apples 




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4.65 

4.20 
3.02 

7.20 
6.19 

4.57 


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2.99 

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6.16 

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1.86 


1.16 


1.32 

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Elapsed 
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Hours 

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1.82 

1.30 

3.13 
2.68 

1.96 


Wait- 
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time 


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tigue 
allow- 
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Man- 
hours 

0.62 

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1.00 
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Direct from trailer to truck: 
By hand, with roller 

conveyor 
By hand 

By hand truck over bridge 

plate 
Via assembly point at edge of 

orchard: 
Ground stack; by hand 

moved by hand truck to 
truck over bridge plate 
Hand-trucked from trailer to 
platform to truck over 
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FIGURE 18. --Method F: Loading 
from trailer directly to road 
truck, using roller conveyor. 



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FIGURE 19. —Loaded orchard 
trailers parked beside road truck 
(method G). 



FIGURE 20. --Method G: Worker 
on trailer handing boxes to 
man on the truck. 




- 14 



graded to adjust the beds of truck and trailer to the same level (fig. 21). Two workers 
build the 3-high stacks of boxes on the trailer to 6-high and then wheel the stacks into 
place on the road truck with hand trucks (fig. 22). When the road-truck load is completed, 
the hinged bridge plate is raised and the load is tied for transport to the warehouse (fig. 
2 3). 

By this method (H) of loading directly to the road truck 2. 60 man-hours were used 
per 1,000 boxes, or 22 minutes of elapsed time per road truck (288 boxes). Twelve per- 
cent of the total time was fatigue allowance. The productive time was about evenly 
divided between the operation of building up the stacks on the trailer and the work of hand 
trucking them into hauling position. 

Comparison of Common (F, G) and Improved (H) Methods of Loading Directly 
From Trailers 

The advantage of method H is largely derived from the elimination of the more 
strenuous and time-consuming manual handling of individual boxes by moving the fruit in 
6-high loads. The time required is reduced and, possibly more important, the boxes are 
handled more gently. 

The disadvantage of the improved method is that hand trucks will be needed, and 
probably the method is not suitable for growers that do not own their hauling equipment 
or for small orchards in which only one trailer is needed. 

Common methods FandG, loading boxes directly from trailers to road trucks, cost 
$4.65 and $4.20, respectively, to load 1,000 boxes (table 3). The less expensive of the 
two methods --loading without roller conveyors --required more strenuous effort on the 
part of the worker. 

Improved method H, using a bridge plate and hand-clamp truck for unloading 
trailers, saved $1. 18 per 1, 000 boxes as compared with method G; this was a saving of 
28 percent. Compared with the operation using roller conveyor (method F), the saving 
was 35 percent. 

Transferring Manually From Trailer to Ground Stack to Truck (Method I) 

In most orchards distantly located from a warehouse the trailers are unloaded to 
: accumulate truckloads of apples near the orchard. The accumulated loads are placed on 

road trucks when the trucks are available, providing greater flexibility between road- 
) truck and trailer operation schedules. 

Many orchardists have not constructed orchard platforms nor do they have sheds at 
which they can accumulate their fruit, pending the arrival of road trucks to haul it to the 
warehouse. Some of these growers have their operations scattered and find it convenient 
to have apples stacked at several locations, which minimize hauling in the orchard. In 
these orchards field boxes of apples are stacked 6-high on the ground when unloaded from 
the trailer (method I). Later the boxes are loaded on a road truck. 

The road truck is driven as near as possible to the boxes at the assembly area. One 
worker on the ground lifts the boxes to the side of the road truck, and another worker on 
the road truck places the boxes in hauling position, or 6-high stacks (fig. 24). 

A total of 6.26 man-hours per 1,000 boxes was required to unload a trailer and load 
a road truck when the apples were stacked on the ground, A little more than one -third 
of this time was used to unload the trailer and stack the boxes. Fatigue allowance accounted 
for 16 percent of this time, because the work of unloading and especially loading was 
quite tiring. Elapsed time per 288-box truck load was 54 minutes. 

- 15 - 



FIGURE 21.— Method H: Stacking 
boxes from 3 to 6 high on a 
trailer in preparation to load- 
ing truck over bridge plate. 




FIGURE 22. --Hand trucking 
stacks from the trailer to the 
truck (method H). 



FIGURE 23. --Loaded road truck 
with wide bridge plate used in 
method H. 




- 16 - 



Transferring Manually From Trailer to Platform and by Hand Truck to Truck (Method J) 

Many orchardists have constructed platforms at the edge of the orchard or haye 
sheds near the orchard where the fruit is accumulated between road-truck trips (fig. 25). 
The orchard trailers are driven close to the platform and one worker on the bed of the 
trailer lifts the boxes onto the platform while another worker builds the stacks 6-high 
(method J). Later the road truck is backed up to the platform and stacks on the platform 
are hand-trucked across a bridge plate and placed in hauling position on the truck. 

The manual unloading of the trailer is usually necessary, as the orchard platform 
or storage shed is built to road-truck height, which does not permit stacks to be hand- 
trucked from the trailer to the platform. 

By method J 1, 000 boxes can be transferred with 5. 36 man-hours of work and an 
elapsed time of 2. 67 hours, or 46 minutes per truckload of 288 boxes (table 3). Seventy 
percent of the time was used in unloading the trailers. 

Transferring By Hand Truck From Trailer to Platform and Then to Truck (Method K) 

Many growers who have built platform areas or sheds in their orchards to assemble 
truckloads save time by hand trucking the fruit from the trailer to the assembly area. 
The trailers are pulled into place at one end or side of the platform where the ground 
has been graded up so that the trailer will be level with the dock. In method K stacks on 
the trailer are built to 6-high and then hand-trucked over a bridge plate to the platform 
(fig. 26). Later the road truck is backed up to the platform on the end graded to suit 
its bed and the fruit is hand-trucked across a bridge plate to the truck (fig. 27). 

The total time to handle 1, 000 boxes was reduced from 6.26 and 5. 36 man-hours by 
the other methods (I, J) to 3. 92 man-hours by method K. The elapsed time to unload and 
load also was considerably less. The worktime was rather equally divided into building 
the stacks of boxes from 3- to 6-high on the trailer, hand trucking the stacks from the 
trailer to the platform, and hand trucking from the platform to the road truck. 

Comparison of Three Common Methods (I, J, K) of Loading Trucks From an 
Assembly Point in Orchard 

It is apparent in this study that method K is the most desirable. However, there may 
not be enough space in some orchards for an orchard platform, and consequently the 
method cannot be used. In such cases, truckloads may be assembled in areas between 
) trees after the props and the fruit have been removed and require no additional ground. 

Common method I- -transferring loads and stacking boxes on the ground--was 
entirely manual and had the highest cost, $7.20 per 1,000 boxes (table 3). Method J-- 
manually unloading the trailer and using clamp -type hand trucks to load the boxes onto 
the road truck--was more efficient and resulted in a savings of $1.01 per 1,000 boxes. 
Method K- -using the hand-clamp truck to unload the orchard trailer and to load the road 
truck--reduced the cost $1. 62 from method J and handled the fruit more gently. 

Loading Trucks, Using Conventional Pallet System (Methods L, M, and N) 

In recent years in Washington State the use of pallets in storing and handling apples 
has increased. In most cases use of the pallets begins at the orchard where the fruit is 
placed on the pallets as the road truck is loaded. The method of handling the apples, i. e. 
unloading trailers and loading road trucks, may be the same as those already discussed. 

Regardless of the method of unloading the trailer and loading the truck, handling the 
empty pallets was extra work. At the warehouse an additional 0. 14 man-hour per 1, 000 

- 17 - 




FIGURE 24. —Method I: Loading 
boxes from stacks on the ground 
onto a road truck. 




FIGURE 25. --Method J: Boxes are lifted 
" from trailer to orchard platform, wher 
they are stacked 6-high. 




FIGURE 26. --Method K: Hand trucking 
6-high stacks from an orchard trailer 
to platform. 




FIGURE 27. --Method K: Stacks being 
hand-trucked from platform to a 
road truck. 



boxes handled was required, half of which was due to the road-truck driver waiting for 
the pallets to be loaded. After the road truck arrives at the orchard the pallets must be 
arranged on the road-truck bed, taking an additional 0. 12 man-hour per 1, 000 boxes. 

Where the hand-clamp truck is used in placing the stacks upon the pallets on the 
road truck (method N), another extra work element is needed to make the stacks of boxes 
on the pallets butt together. The clamping arms of the hand truck will not permit placing 
boxes closely together; therefore, they are jacked into place with a box jack (fig. 28). 
The box-jacking operation required an extra 1. 32 man-hours per 1, 000 boxes, only 52 
percent of which was productive time. Wait time and allowance for fatigue were larger. 

The use of pallets did not greatly change the costs of unloading trailers and loading 
road trucks. The additional labor of handling the pallets and jacking the boxes into place 
tended to favor a manual method of loading the road truck. However, the use of hand 
trucks to move the fruit from the trailer and the road truck was the least costly method, 
$6. 55 per 1, 000 boxes handled (table 4). 

The extra work associated with the use of pallets added $0. 46 to $1. 98 per 1, 000 
boxes handled, depending upon the handling method. The extra cost of using the pallets 
in the orchard, however, is more than offset by the increased ease of handling at the 
warehouse. Not only is unloading time reduced at the warehouse but the road-truck 
driver has a reduced wait period, so that $2. 23 per 1, 000 boxes in labor cost may be 
saved at the warehouse. Furthermore, the fruit is moved more promptly into storage. 

Labor and machine -hours and costs of loading road trucks by some of the methods 
tested, including the hours and costs of loading orchard trailers, are given in table 5. 

Loading Trucks Fitted With Dunnage Strips, Using Stevedore-Type Two-Wheeled 
Hand Trucks 

Part of the added cost in using pallets is associated with the necessity of jacking 
boxes into place when they are moved onto the pallet with a hand-clamp truck. This extra 
labor may tend to deter the loading of pallets at the orchard, which is the most logical 
place for this operation. For that reason some trials not representing current commercial 
practices were made. 

A means of hauling the fruit to the warehouse without the use of pallets was explored. 
Two by fours were nailed acros-s the truck, centered at 19-1/2 inches, so that the ends 
of the boxes rested on these dunnage strips (fig. 29). The addition of these strips 
necessitated loading the road truck from the side. Instead of using the conventional hand- 
clamp truck, which had clamping arms that would not ride above the dunnage strips, a 
stevedore -type truck was used. This truck was made by removing the clamping arms 
and adding a stevedore -type blade. The main advantage of the stevedore -type truck was 
that it could be used to set the 6-high stacks close together, as shown in figure 30, there- 
by eliminating the necessity of hand jacking the stacks into place. 

After the truck was loaded, the. stacks were secured for transit by tying with ropes. 
The method of tying was the same as that used by some growers who hand-truck onto 
pallets and required no extra time (fig. 31). 

The use of a stevedore -type hand truck instead of the clamp-type hand truck saved 
0.87 man-hour per 1, 000 boxes in loading road trucks in the orchard. Elapsed time to 
load road trucks, however, was 0. 60 hour greater, because only one man was used to 
load the truck. When the clamp-type two-wheeled hand truck was used to load pallets in 
conjunction with a box jack, 21 percent of the total time was wait time. This time was 

5 A different crew arrangement of two hand truckers and one box jacker would reduce wait time. 

- 19 - 






\ 




FIGURE 31. --Load on road-truck bed secured by the 
cables with corner plates. 



FIGURE 29. --Road-truck bed fitted with dunnage strips. 




FIGURE 30. —Hand truck with stevedore plate used to 
load a road truck equipped with dunnage strips. 




FIGURE 31. --Load on road-truck bed secured by tie 
cables with corner plates 



- 20 



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charged to the man who jacked the stacks into position, as he waited for- the hand trucker 
to bring the fruit to the road truck (table 6). 

With the stevedore -type two-wheeled hand truck 1, 000 boxes can be loaded on road 
trucks in the orchard at a cost of $2.44. Of this total amount 98 percent was labor cost. 
With the clamp-type two-wheeled hand truck, box jack, and pallet combination of equip- 
ment used in loading trucks, loading cost $1.21 more. Labor accounted for 93 percent 
of the total cost for this common method. 

Comparison of Unloading Methods at Warehouse From Trucks Using Conventional Pallet 
System and From Trucks Using Dunnage Strips and Stevedore- Type Trucks 

When boxes of apples are loaded with the stevedore -type truck by placing the stacks 
on dunnage strips, the conventional-type industrial-fork truck cannot be used for unload- 
ing. It is possible that the boxes could be spaced on the road-truck bed into unit loads so 
that they might be removed with an industrial-clamp truck. In the trial that was made, 
however, the boxes were unloaded with the use of a broad-bladed fork-lift truck. The 
broad blades were inserted under the stacks of boxes in the space left by the dunnage 
strips. These boxes were set down on dunnage strips on the warehouse floor. 

When the unloading operations, using the broad-bladedfork-lift truckat the ware- 
house, were added to the orchard operations and computed on a comparable basis with 
the regular fork-lift truck and pallet loading and unloading cycles of operation, it was 
found that the additional cost in the warehouse offset the savings in loading costs at the 
orchard. The overall cost was $6. 92, as compared with the common method of unloading 
with fork-lift truck and pallets at $6. 83 per 1, 000 boxes. The broad-bladed fork-lift 
truck decreased the total labor time for both the orchard and the warehouse operation 
from 4. 51 to 4. 32 man-hours. However, all of this decrease in labor time occurred in 
the orchard, while at the warehouse the labor required to unload the road truck was 
increased. The additional time required to unload at the warehouse was reflected in 
increased machine cost of unloading. 

Some Methods Used in Other Areas 

J. H. Levin and H. P. Gaston, 6 working at Michigan State College, found that fork- 
lift trucks which operated on paved areas at the orchards, serving a similar purpose to 
the orchard platforms described in this report, offered substantial savings to many 
growers in that area. Some Pacific Northwest growers with storage or packing plants at 
their orchards have paved areas at the plants and are attaining the benefits described by 
Levin and Gaston. 

L. L. Sammet, 7 working on orchard-to-plant handling problems in California, has 
developed some information regarding the use of tractors with fork-lift attachments in 
apple orchards. When used alone, this apparatus appears promising only for a very short 
haul from orchard to warehouse. In situations requiring transfer of fruit from orchard 
trailer to road truck, however, it does offer possible savings when used to bring loads 
from the tree rows to road trucks at the edge of the orchard. Thus the fork-lift attach- 
ment may prove advantageous in orchards where a fairly long haul to the packing plant 
precludes the economical use of hauling with trailers. 

Summary 

For a periodof 2 years research in Washington State has accumulated considerable 
information o n methods and costs of loading and moving apples from orchard to the 

6 Levin, J. H. , and Gaston, H. P. Fruit Handling With Fork Lift Trucks. Mich. Agr. Expt. Sta. Spec. Bui. 379, 25 pp., 
illus. 1952. 

7 Sammet, L. L. Elficiency in Fruit Marketing--Orchard-to-Plant Transportation. Calif. Agr. Expt. Sta. Giannini Found. 
Agr. Econ. Rpt. 131. July 1952. [Processed. ] 

- 24 - 



storage and packing plants. Usually this operation is a direct cost to the grower and 
approximately equals the cost of handling the fruit at the warehouse up to the time the 
fruit is packed. Several of the methods saved man-hours by using new techniques and 
thus saved costs as well as time in moving the fruit to storage under the conditions 
found in that area. 

The improvements were usually a result of reducing the number of times the boxes 
are handled. The simplest way to move fruit from the tree rows to the warehouse was 
to haul it directly on the trailer after it had been loaded. However, this can be done 
efficiently only where transportation distances are short, for the trailers are not pulled 
at high speed and they usually carry only half the load hauled by a road truck. In most 
cases it is more economical to use road trucks to haul apples to the warehouse. 

One improved method of loading is to attach hardwood skids across the bed of the 
orchard trailer. The boxes of fruit are stacked on the edge of the trailer and then pushed 
inward, thus eliminating one handling in loading the trailer. 

An improved method of transferring the boxes to road trucks from orchard trailers 
consists of moving unit loads of 6-box-high stacks with a wheeled hand-clamp truck, 
rather than lifting the boxes one at a time. The boxes are moved from the trailer to a 
platform and from the platform to the road truck over a bridge plate. These preferred 
methods of moving apples not only resulted in less handling of the fruit but also reduced 
the cost. 

A definite saving in time and cost can be made by loading a road truck directly from 
two trailers, but this method requires close timing of the arrival of the trailers and the 
truck at the loading area. In practice, this frequently necessitates waiting on the part of 
one trailer operator or the truck operator and, therefore, has not come into general use. 

When pallets are used with road trucks or trailers and the fruit is loaded on pallets 
in the orchard, a slight amount of additional labor is needed to handle the empty pallets. 
This added labor is more than offset by reduced man-hour requirements when unloading 
at the warehouse; furthermore, one handling of the fruit is eliminated. 

The costs of the comparable portions of different methods ranged from $2. 13 per 
1,000 boxes for loading orchard trailers to $11.16 for loading orchard trailers and 
transferring the loads to road trucks. These figures do not include driving time and 
preparation time in the orchard. 



25 - 

<rU. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1954 O - 280715